13 Herbs and Spices That Can Reduce Inflammation

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Inflammation is your body’s protective response to injury or damage. It helps your natural healing and repair processes. A problem starts when your body is chronically inflamed. Many modern stressors, such as pollution, food sensitivities and extra weight, can lead to chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to a wide variety of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and attention deficit disorder (ADD).

You don’t have to accept inflammation as a part of modern life. There are many different herbs that can help you reduce or prevent inflammation in your body.

1. Turmeric (Curcumin)

The anti-inflammatory agent in turmeric is its yellow pigment called curcumin. Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines have long used turmeric and curcumin to reduce inflammation as well as treat digestive disorders, wounds and infections.

Studies have shown that curcumin also acts as an antioxidant and may combat cancer. Fresh or powdered turmeric is excellent in curries, soups or other dishes. Fresh turmeric can be added to fresh vegetable juices. Supplements of curcumin are also available.

2. Green Tea

The preventative effects of green tea against cardiovascular disease and cancer are well established. More recent studies have shown that green tea can be an effective anti-inflammatory, particularly in the treatment of arthritis. It can also reduce inflammation of the digestive tract, potentially helping conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

It’s recommended to drink 3 to 4 cups of tea daily. Green tea extract can also be found in pill form. And for those who don’t want the caffeine, decaffeinated green teas are available.

3. White Willow Bark

White willow tree bark has been used as a treatment for pain and inflammation since ancient Egyptian and Roman times. Many studies have shown that white willow bark has a comparable effect to aspirin, but with fewer side effects than aspirin.

The usual dose of white willow bark is 240 mg per day for ongoing conditions. There are also herbal blends that contain white willow bark which can be used for an acute event, such as a headache.

4. Maritime Pine Bark (Pycnogenol)

Bark from the maritime pine tree (Pinus maritima) can be processed into pycnogenol. This extract has been used for over 2,000 years to help heal wounds, scurvy and ulcers as well as reducing vascular inflammation. It is one of the strongest antioxidants known today.

Studies have shown that pycnogenol is 50 to 100 times more potent than vitamin E in neutralizing free radicals in the body. It has also been found to reduce blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. A typical dosage is 100-200 mg daily.

5. Chili Peppers (Capsaicin)

The countless varieties of hot peppers we have today began as one small shrub (Capsicum annum), native to tropical regions of the Americas. The chemical capsaicin is what makes a pepper hot. And it’s capsaicin that’s been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect in your body.

Any type of chili pepper, such as cayenne or jalapeno, contains capsaicin. You can use chili peppers fresh or powdered in a wide variety of dishes, including desserts. Supplements containing capsaicin are often mixed with other herbs to create natural anti-inflammatory blends.

6. Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)

Boswellia is a tree variety native to India, Somalia, Ethiopia and the Arabian Peninsula. Frankincense is a resin extracted from the trees. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and pain-controlling properties. Boswellia resin is currently used to treat degenerative and inflammatory joint disorders.

One study showed that a combination of Boswellia and curcumin was more effective for treating osteoarthritis than a commonly used synthetic drug. It’s recommended to take 300-500 mg of Boswellia extract two or three times a day for ongoing inflammatory conditions.

7. Black Pepper

This unassuming spice actually packs an anti-inflammatory punch. The distinctive flavor of black pepper comes from the chemical piperine. Even at low doses, piperine has been shown to reduce inflammation. It can inhibit the spread of cancer and has been shown to suppress the perception of pain and arthritis symptoms.

8. Resveratrol

This is an antioxidant found in many plants. The highest amounts have been found in Japanese knot weed (Polygonum cuspidatum) and in the skins of red wine grapes. Resveratrol has been shown to be a strong anti-inflammatory. It also protects against DNA damage and mutations. You can find resveratrol as a common supplement in natural food stores. A typical dosage is from 50 to 500 mg per day.

9. Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa)

This herb is derived from a woody vine native to Peru. The bark of cat’s claw has traditionally been used to treat arthritis, bursitis and intestinal disorders. Studies have shown that it can reduce inflammatory responses in the body and it has a protective effect against gastrointestinal inflammation.

You can make a tea from cat’s claw from either a prepared tea or use 1000 mg of the bark to 8 ounces of water. It is also available as a dry extract in a capsule. It’s recommended to take 20 to 60 mg daily.

10. Rosemary

In one study, participants were given small amounts of various common herbs and spices for a period of 7 days. Rosemary showed one of the strongest protective effects against inflammation and oxidation.

The other top spices were turmeric, cloves and ginger. The researchers noted that the amounts given of each herb were no more than what someone would normally eat in a seasoned soup, sauce or other dish.

11. Cloves

Clove oil can be applied directly to the gums to help with a toothache or for pain control during dental work. Cloves have been shown to reduce mouth and throat inflammation. Cloves can also be used to treat diarrhea, nausea, hernia, bad breath and as an expectorant.

The powdered or whole dried flower buds are delicious in many savory dishes as well as in desserts and hot drinks.

12. Ginger

Research has shown that ginger has a better therapeutic effect than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat pain and inflammation. Ginger also inhibits the activation of several genes involved in an inflammatory response.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginger may help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting from motion sickness, pregnancy and chemotherapy. It can also be used to reduce osteoarthritic pain and heart disease. Ginger is delicious in many savory dishes, as well as in teas, juices and desserts.

13. Cinnamon

This popular spice is made from the bark of cinnamon trees native to China, India and Southeast Asia. In addition to being anti-inflammatory, cinnamon has been shown to have antioxidant, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer and lipid-lowering properties. It has even been found to act against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Cinnamon goes well in anything from breakfast grains, to soups and stews, to desserts and drinks. Any pre-made apple pie or pumpkin pie spice mixes will often have cinnamon, cloves and ginger all in one tasty blend.

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10 Reasons to Eat Sprouts

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Sprouts truly are the best locally-grown food, yet not enough people eat or grow them. Considering there many health and environmental benefits, it’s time to consider adding sprouts to your diet. Here are 10 reasons to eat more sprouts: 1.  Experts estimate that there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than […]

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10 Reasons to Eat Sprouts

This post was originally published on this site

Sprouts truly are the best locally-grown food, yet not enough people eat or grow them. Considering there many health and environmental benefits, it’s time to consider adding sprouts to your diet.

Here are 10 reasons to eat more sprouts:

1.  Experts estimate that there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and vegetables.  Enzymes are special types of proteins that act as catalysts for all your body’s functions. Extracting more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids from the foods you eat ensures that your body has the nutritional building blocks of life to ensure every process works more effectively.

2.  The quality of the protein in the beans, nuts, seeds, or grains improves when it is sprouted.  Proteins change during the soaking and sprouting process, improving its nutritional value.  The amino acid lysine, for example, which is needed to prevent cold sores and to maintain a healthy immune system increases significantly during the sprouting process.

3.  The fiber content of the beans, nuts, seeds, or grains increases substantially.  Fiber is critical to weight loss.  It not only binds to fats and toxins in our body to escort them out, it ensures that any fat our body breaks down is moved quickly out of the body before it can resorb through the walls of the intestines (which is the main place for nutrient absorption into the blood).

4.  Vitamin content increases dramatically.  This is especially true of vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E.  The vitamin content of some seeds, grains, beans, or nuts increases by up to 20 times the original value within only a few days of sprouting.  Research shows that during the sprouting process mung beansprouts (or just beansprouts, as they are often called) increase in vitamin B1 by up to 285 percent, vitamin B2 by up to 515 percent, and niacin by up to 256 percent.

5.  Essential fatty acid content increases during the sprouting process. Most of us are deficient in these fat-burning essential fats because they are not common in our diet.  Eating more sprouts is an excellent way to get more of these important nutrients.

6.  During sprouting, minerals bind to protein in the seed, grain, nut, or bean, making them more useable in the body.  This is true of alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium, and others than help us to balance our body chemistry for weight loss and better health.

7.  Sprouts are the ultimate locally-grown food. When you grow them yourself you are helping the environment and ensuring that you are not getting unwanted pesticides, food additives, and other harmful fat-bolstering chemicals that thwart your weight loss efforts.

8.  The energy contained in the seed, grain, nut, or legume is ignited through soaking and sprouting.

9.  Sprouts are alkalizing to your body.  Many illnesses including cancer have been linked to excess acidity in the body.

10.  Sprouts are inexpensive. People frequently use the cost of healthy foods as an excuse for not eating healthy.  But, with sprouts being so cheap, there really is no excuse for not eating healthier.

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A Week-by-Week Countdown to Spring Cleaning

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It’s hard to believe, but the first day of spring is just six weeks away. For those of us who are looking forward to the warmer weather (to put it mildly), the countdown to spring has already begun. And what better way to ring in the warm season than by partaking in a ceremonial spring cleaning?

If spring cleaning sounds like it’s way too far away to get started on right now, think again. By doing some pre-spring cleaning prep work now, you won’t have a million things to do on the big day. Countdown to spring with this spring cleaning weekly countdown:

Six Weeks Out: Plan Any Major Changes

When spring is six weeks away (that is, right now), it’s time to take inventory of what has served you well over the past year in regard to your home life. Get out a notebook or planner and answer the following questions:

  • What is my least favorite room in the house? Why?
  • What fixtures would be more easily accessible if moved somewhere else?
  • What items are cluttering up my living space?
  • Are there any rooms of my home I’d like to re-arrange?
  • What are my top organizational priorities for the coming year?
  • Are any pieces of hardware in my home broken or in need of replacements?

When you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to formulate an action plan for your spring cleaning activities.

Five Weeks Out: Fix Broken Things

Five weeks from spring, it’s time to do the dirty work: Fixing anything that’s broken. Tighten your door handles, repair hinges, spackle any holes, replace light bulbs… you get the picture. If anything requires the help of a trained handyman, make the appointment so it gets done in a timely manner.

Four Weeks Out: Declutter Your Closet

Regardless of your other priorities, everyone would benefit from a critical look at their wardrobe. Discard any items of clothing that no longer fit, have holes or that no longer bring you happiness. Take them to a donation center or, if they are in good condition, consider selling them for a small profit.

Three Weeks Out: Declutter Your Bathroom

Another area where everyone could use a good comb-through? The bathroom. Now’s the time to throw out expired medications, cosmetics you haven’t used in months, empty shampoo bottles and ratty old washcloths. Donate what’s salvageable and recycle the rest.

Two Weeks Out: DIY Your Cleaning Products

With spring just two weeks away, make your cleaning products. You’ll probably need a few staples from your local store, if you don’t have them on hand already:

  • Borax
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Distilled water
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Assorted spray bottles
  • Essential oils (optional)

Click here for all the recipes you need to DIY your cleaning products!

The Week Before: Check the Forecast and Plan Your Spring Cleaning Day

Finally, about a week away from the first day of spring, check your 10-day weather forecast. Pick the best day for your spring clean-a-thon by considering both your personal schedule and the weather. It’s best to open your windows, if possible, during your cleaning session, as this can help move out dusty winter air and bring in fresh air.

Make your game plan room-by-room so you don’t miss any dust bunnies. Spring will be here before you know it, so get started with your prep work today.

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Research has revealed that washing your hands can have a positive effect on your mental well-being. This simple act can help reduce anxiety when you’re faced with a decision and alleviate upset following unethical behavior. Psychologists call this the “clean slate effect,” where washing can actually clear your conscience after distress.

HOW CAN HAND WASHING HELP WITH DECISION-MAKING?

Many of us experience what psychologists call cognitive dissonance when we make a decision. This is when you can’t easily accept the choice you made. You might wonder if the other option was actually better and keep questioning your decision.

To alleviate this anxiety, you subconsciously try to convince yourself that what you chose was the best option, and the others weren’t as good. For example, the other products were bad quality, the other person wasn’t as attractive or the other job was at a lousy company.

Humans may have developed this tendency to prevent us from constantly second-guessing our decisions, but these assumptions are often not true and may lead to further stress. So, how can you stop this vicious cycle? Wash your hands.

A University of Michigan study found that washing your hands can actually reduce cognitive dissonance. Participants were asked to rank the top 10 CDs they’d like to own from a list of 30 CDs, as part of an alleged consumer survey. Then they were offered a choice between keeping either their fifth- or sixth-ranked disc. Later, they were asked to evaluate a liquid hand soap, half by looking at the bottle and half by washing their hands with it. Finally, they ranked their top 10 CDs again.

But this time, those who hadn’t washed their hands ranked their chosen CD about two places higher than the one they didn’t pick. This was cognitive dissonance skewing their opinions. Whereas, those who had washed their hands ranked the CDs about the same as before. It seems any inner anxiety about their choice had been erased.

The study went on to ask another set of participants to choose between two jars of jam. Next, they evaluated antiseptic wipes by either looking at them or using them. Finally, they rated how good they thought the jams would taste. Those who had wiped their hands expected equal tastiness. Whereas, those who had only looked at the wipes expected far more deliciousness from their chosen jar of jam.

THE “CLEAN SLATE EFFECT”

Previous studies have shown that washing can help relieve anxiety about poor behavior as well. In many cultures, there’s a psychological link between physical cleanliness and moral purity.

Physical cleansing, such as bathing or hand washing, is central to many religious rituals. Language also reveals this connection. In English, words such as “clean” and “pure” describe both physical and moral states.

This connection extends to our daily actions. Research has found that even thinking about an unethical act or behavior will make you more inclined to wash yourself.

And interestingly, physically washing actually makes you feel better. One study set out to prove this by looking at our natural desire to make amends when we feel we’ve done something wrong. We often do this as a way to clear our conscience and relieve any guilt about the misdeed.

One study asked participants to describe an unethical deed from their past. This was followed by either cleansing their hands with an antiseptic wipe or not. Afterwards, participants were asked whether or not they would volunteer for another study without pay. Those who had wiped their hands were 50 percent less likely to volunteer.

Researchers suggest this is because the washing removed any feelings of guilt or remorse about the unethical behavior, so the participants felt no need to take corrective action. Whereas, those who had not wiped their hands were more likely to volunteer because they still carried the guilt and desire to make amends.

The study concluded that you may be able to in fact wash away your sins, or at least the emotional upset following them.

HOW TO USE HAND WASHING TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Clearly, you should never knowingly engage in unethical behavior. And any decisions in your life should be made with care and attention. But, even when you’ve done your best, stuff still happens.

Maybe you accidentally insulted a loved one, or you realized you made a bad choice after the fact. Once you’ve apologized or done what you can to rectify the situation, the healthiest option is often to let go of any residual emotional upset and move on.

Holding on to unresolved emotions can easily increase your stress load. And the health risks associated with stress are well-documented. So, you may want to add some personal care to help with stress reduction and emotional healing. Have a nice, long bath, take a spa day or even go for a swim.

And remember to wash your hands regularly. Not only will it help prevent disease, it will also benefit your mental health.

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